American History and Genealogy Project


Harbor Island Biographies

Harbor Island forms the southern side to Old Harbor, and contains one hundred and forty-four acres. This seems to have been an attractive location for the earliest settlers, as many made this temporarily their home. It was first settled, as has been recorded, by Thomas Kench, near the year 1777. After Swan's purchase this island came into the possession of Joseph Prince, of Beverly, who remained until about the year 1800. In 1791 David Smith settled on this island, and while here Sarah, his daughter, was born in the year 1792, being the first white child born on this island. It afterwards became the property of Col. Henry Jackson, of Boston. He, however, probably never considered it as valuable property, and soon other settlers took possession of it. Dr. Thurston and a Mr. Bunker lived here for some years at an early date. Here they kept a small store of general merchandise. Other settlers will be noticed more in detail.

Zachariah Kempton

Zachariah Kempton came to Harbor Island from Hampden, Maine, in 1821, and staid about four years. He, together with Ids brother, who came at the same time, built a house and store on Harbor Island, and did considerable trading. They bought and cured fish and fitted out vessels. He soon brought his family here. His wife was Mary Evans, and they were the parents of five children, Frank, David, Zachariah, William and Jane. These children are all dead except Zachariah and William, who reside in Brooklyn, N. Y. Mr. Kempton was a carpenter; he learned his trade of his father, who was a shipbuilder and one of the pioneer settlers of Frankfort. This Kempton family came to Frankfort from Plymouth, Mass., where they settled when they came from England. No member of this family is now living in New England except a niece of the subject of this sketch; she is the wife of Alfred H. Slatten, of Hampden Corner, Maine. Mr. Kempton died in 1844.

Seth Kempton

Seth Kempton came with his brother Zachariah to Harbor Island. He was a young man and unmarried. When he left this place in 1825 he settled in Hampden. His wife was Lucy Brown, of Orrington, by whom he had seven children, Seth, Zachariah, Harvey, Joseph, Lucy, Lucinda and Eliza. Joseph settled in Colorado, Eliza and Harvey in Iowa, whence Mr. Kempton's whole family moved in 1839. The other children settled in the western states, and none of them ever returned to the place of their birth. Mr. Kempton died in six weeks after his arrival in Iowa. The property on Harbor Island belonging to the Kempton brothers was bought by Silas Hardy. After trading there a few years this property came into the possession of William Stinson. Hardy and Oliver Lane, Mr. Stinson's heirs, now own it.

Hardy Lane

Hardy Lane came here from Deer Isle near the year 1835. He was the son of Oliver Lane, sr., and was born in 1820. He, with his brother Oliver, bought Harbor island of Silas Hardy. His wife was Livonia Stinson, by whom he had nine children. They were: Hannah, Sarah, Livonia, who settled at Deer Isle; Oliver, jr., who resides in Chicago; Silas, who bought a large farm where he now resides at West Gardiner; William, who lives in Seattle, Wash.: Mary and Amasa, who are in Brooklyn, N, Y.; Lizzie, who lives in Brockton, Mass. Mr. Lane returned to Deer Isle in t861. Mr. Lane was a candidate for representative to the legislature at Deer Isle in 1873. He received fifty-four votes to one hundred and eleven for William Babbidge. He died in 1886, aged sixty-six years.

Oliver Lane

Oliver Lane was born at Deer Isle in 1822, and, as before stated, bought Harbor Island with his brother Hardy in 1835. The two families lived together for some years, when Oliver sold his part to William Stinson, whose wife, Elizabeth Lane, was an only sister of the subject of this sketch. Mr. Lane afterwards bought Marshall Island. The former owner had been Swan, during whose ownership it was occupied by Jephtha Benson, later by Moses Bridges and Silas Hardy. About this time it came into the possession of Charles K. Tilden, of Castine, and Erastus Redman, of Brooksville, by whom it was mortgaged to Boston parties. Mr. Lane bought it of these parties at an excellent trade, as the island is quite valuable, being assessed at about $10,000. Mr. Lane resided here until 1874, when he went to Sedgwick, where he now resides. His wife was Keturah Stinson, by whom he had five children, Hardy, Fred, Georgie, Vesta and John.

Robert Mitchell

Robert Mitchell was born in Dublin, Ireland, March 28, 1790, and came to this country as an emigrant in 1814. After a long, tedious voyage of six weeks, they saw land through the fog and anchored in Old Harbor. It was one of the old fashioned emigrant ships, a poor sailer, and furnished still poorer accommodations to its passengers. There were three hundred and sixty emigrants aboard, most of whom were Irish. It was Sunday morning when they anchored. Many of the emigrants came ashore, some of whom were invited to attend a religious service held at the house of David Smith at the "north"'. While here they learned that one of their countrymen, John Finney, lived on the eastern side of the island, and a large number of them went across the island to pay Mr. Finney a visit, and stayed with him over night. Mr. Finney's small house made it inconvenient for him to accommodate so large a company, but he was equal to the emergency. He had recently sheared his sheep, the wool of which he spread upon the floor, thus making a comfortable bed for them all.

Mr. Mitchell alone remained; the others returned to the ship, which sailed the next morning for Portland. Mr. Mitchell never heard from any of the company afterwards. He was hired by Abel Staples, with whom he worked two years. In 1820 he married Mr. Staples' daughter, Judith. He bought land on Placentia, and went there to live. There was a log house on the island, and in this they began housekeeping. This island was then covered with a dense forest, much of which he cut off and sold. The land thus cleared made an excellent farm. In three years he had built a frame house. They had a family of nine children, three of whom died young. Mr. Mitchell was an active member of the Methodist church. He died in 1861, aged seventy-one years. Mrs. Mitchell died twenty years earlier, aged forty-four years. The following are notices of their children:

George W. was born in 1822, and married Almira Stanley, a daughter of Joseph Stanley, of Steuben. He was for many years a sea captain. After a long voyage he arrived at Boston where he met a terrible death. He was walking on a railroad track when his foot caught in a frog, and to his consternation he saw a train approaching. He tried in vain to extricate himself, but finding it useless, he leaned as far back as he could in hopes of saving his life by losing his leg. But just then a train came rushing in the opposite direction; he was struck, thrown high into the air, and came down crushed and lifeless. The Masons, of which order he was a member, sent his' body home to Calais, where he was buried in April, 1879. He left a widow and three children. The widow and one child now reside in Calais.

Jane A. was born at Swan's Island in 1824. She married Benjamin Murphy, of Tremont, where she has always resided. Mr. Murphy died in 1886, leaving his widow with eight children. Mrs. Murphy, until her death, resided with her youngest daughter at Bass Harbor. She died in 1898, aged seventy-four years.

Sarah B. was born at Swan's Island in 1826. She became the wife of Adam Reed, of Tremont. For many years he was a successful master mariner. He followed the sea until near the close of his life, when, on account of failing health, he was obliged to abandon it. He died in Jacksonville, Florida, where he had gone for his health; Mrs. Reed at present resides in Oakland, Mass.

Judith S. died at the age of seven years.

Marietta 13 was born at Placentia in 1836. She was the wife of Charles Mitchell, of Bass Harbor. Mrs. Mitchell died very suddenly in 1872, at the age of thirty-eight years.

Robert, jr., was born at Placentia in 1836. He married Mary J. Ober, of Tremont. He followed the sea and was mate of a New York vessel at the time of his death. They were anchored off Ricker's Island. The night was bright moon light, yet a watch was kept on deck. Mr. Mitchell's watch expired at 3 a. m.; he went below into the cabin, called the captain, told him it was his watch, and then retired. The captain, only partially aroused, fell asleep again. While they slept a "river pirate" came aboard the vessel. He proceeded at once to the captain's berth, placed a revolver at his ear, and told him if he uttered a sound he would blow his brains out. The robber secured a watch, $39 in cash, and such other articles as he could readily obtain. He then backed out of the cabin, still keeping the captain covered with his revolver. The captain then whispered to Mitchell that a robber was aboard, when Mitchell came out of his berth, probably half asleep, and started up the steps behind the robber, who turned around and tired, the ball passing through Mitchell's body and into the deck. He never spoke, and died in a few minutes. His body was buried in New York. This happened in 1865, at the age of twenty-nine years.

Joshua S. Trask

Joshua S. Trask came here from Stillwater, Maine, about the year 1825, and married Mary Staples. He then went to Long Island where he traded for several years, doing quite a business. Although the island was small and the inhabitants few, yet this was a resort for many fishing vessels, it being near the fishing grounds, and furnished a good harbor. It was from these vessels principally that he received his custom. He afterwards came here and settled near the end of the point of hind formerly owned by Washington Staples, now called Trask's point, where he built a house. He was a man of liberal education, and possessed a wonderful memory. His favorite study was history, French history being his favorite. He was a great admirer of Napoleon, after whom he named one of his sons. For several years he taught school here with good success. He was an active man in town affairs, and for many years was justice of the peace.

They were the parents of eleven children. Mr. Trask was lost in the Bay of Chaleur during the great gale of Oct. 3, 1851. He was in the schooner "Henry Clay", commanded by John Walls. The vessel foundered in the gale and all hands were lost. His age was forty-four years. Mrs. Trask afterwards became the wife of Philip Moore, of Gott's Island, by whom she had three children, none of whom reached adult age. Mrs. Moore is now dead.

The sons of Mr. and Mrs. Trask were: Capt. Orlando, who married the widow of Byron Joyce, and lives near where his father settled; Napoleon B., who married Cynthia Staples; he died at Sydney, C. B., in 1865, aged twenty-nine years; Lorenzo S., who lives at Tremont. The daughters were: Lucinda, wife of Enoch Moore, of Gott's Island; Flavilla, wife of George Moore, of Tremont; Elmira; several other children died in infancy.

Jacob S. Reed

Jacob S. Reed came here from Brooklin in 1845, and bought nine acres of land from the Joyce lot, which at this time was owned by William Joyce. Some years previous to his coming here he bought a small part of the lot of land he afterwards occupied, through which ran a large stream of water. This he dammed and it proved to be an excellent mill privilege. This was the place where Prince wished to locate a mill. Mr. Reed took down a mill which he had been running in Brooklin, and erected it over this stream. While at Brooklin his gristmill was first operated by wind, and later by horsepower. This was a rather expensive mode of manufacture, so he came here where he might utilize this water privilege. At this time a greater part of the bread was made from the flour of corn and barley which were raised on the island. William Joyce operated the mill several years; afterwards Mr. Reed came himself, bought more land and built a house, which is still known as the Reed house. Soon after this time manufactured wheat flour became cheaper, so less grain was raised here, and after a short time the mill was closed.

Mr. Reed was a man of marked individuality and sterling integrity. He was three times married. His first wife was Sarah, daughter of Moses Staples, 2d; she died in 1865, aged fifty-nine years; his second wife was Mary Harding, of Boston, who died in 187 1, aged thirty-nine years; his third wife was Isabel S. Joyce, who died in 1888, aged sixty-eight years. Mr. Reed died in Scarboro where he went to live with his children. His death occurred in 1888, at the age of eighty-four years.

The following were his children: Allen G. and Lemuel, who live in Scarboro; Simeon S. and Joseph; Emily, wife of Daniel H. Babbidge; he was lost in the schooner "Constitution" off Nausett light, Cape Cod, in i860, at the age of twenty-eight years; after his death she married Winthrop B. Lane, of Deer Isle; Mrs. Lane was in the schooner "S. J. Collins"' that was lost at sea in 1867, together with her two daughters, Lillian, aged eight years, and Grace, aged one year; Susan, wife of Ezra Torrey; he was drowned in 1865; Mary E., wife of Nelson Stinson; they now reside in Harpswell; Sarah A. and Myra, who died young.

Abram Holbrook

Abram Holbrook came from Deer Isle in 1836, and settled here on the place owned by Samuel Kent, and afterwards lived for a number of years on Buckle Island. He never owned any property here. Later he returned to Deer Isle, and lived the remainder of his life at Webb's cove in that town. He was over seventy years of age at his death. His wife was Martha Morey, a sister of Elias Morey, jr., whom we have noticed. They were the parents of eight children, as follows: Abram, jr., who married Abbie Herrick; Hezekiah, who married Angelina Smith; after her death he married Parthanea Gott; these two sons reside here at present; Mary A., wife of Amos C. Beal, of Grand Menan: Rosetta, wife of Benjamin Harvey, of Deer Isle; Susan, Henry, John and an infant died young.

Mr. Holbrook's father, Elisha Holbrook, came from Cape Cod and settled at Isle au Haut about the year 1800. There he married a daughter of Abiathar Smith. His children were: Abram, the subject of this sketch; Simon, who went away from home when a young man; Daniel, who lived at Vinal Haven; he was killed by falling from a derrick used in hoisting stone, up which he had gone for the purpose of fixing a tackle; the daughters were the wives of Joseph Morey and afterwards Humphrey Webster; of Samuel Black, and of a Mr. Hall who lived near Belfast; another daughter was reared in the family of Capt. Samuel Turner.

Alexander Kiff

Alexander Kiff came here from St. George, Maine, in 1841, and lived in a house south of where Parker Bridges now resides. He married, in 1823, Susan Robinson Gilchrist, of St. George, at which place they lived for several years. They moved to Gloucester in 1849. Kiff died there in 1883, aged eighty-two years; his wife died in 1891, aged eighty-seven years.

They were the parents of the following children: Eliza, born in 1827, who was the first wife of Seth Stockbridge; she died in 1865, aged thirty-eight years; Clarissa, who is the wife of Eben Stockbridge; they reside in Gloucester; William, who married, in 1853, Frances Tibbetts; Nancy, who was the wife of David Elwell: after his death she became the second wife of Seth Stockbridge; she died in 1884, aged forty-seven years.

Israel Conary

Israel Conary came here in 1820, and settled on a lot of land known as "City point". His wife was Martha Gott. Fie afterwards moved to Black or Conary's island, where he lived some years; later he came back to this town and bought a part of the lot then owned by Joseph Gott; he built the house where David Stanley now resides. After having reared their family here they moved to Bluehill, where Mr. and Mrs. Conary died.

They were the parents of the following children; Moses, who married Mary A. Smith, a daughter of David Smith, 2d; John, who was lost at sea; William, who died unmarried; Nancy, who was the wife of Hezekiah Morey; she is the only one of the family now residing here; Amaziah, who married Maria Malcolm, of Newcastle; Emma, who was the wife of Harvey Conary, of Deer Isle; Joseph, who died unmarried at Staten Island, New York.

The ancestor of this Conary family, Thomas Conary, emigrated to this country from Ireland, and was the first settler on Conary's island in Eggemoggin reach. His first wife was a daughter of the ancestor of the Limeburner family, now living in Brooksville, by adoption. Mr. Limeburner came from Scotland before the Revolutionary war, and with him came, besides his own family, a son and a daughter adopted by him. The son, Cunningham Limeburner, died at an advanced age, not far from 1825, in Brooksville, and the daughter, Mrs. Conary, was his sister by birth. After her death he married a daughter of Mrs. Mercy Staples, and a sister of Moses Staples, sr., of this town, and by both marriages he had ten sons. Their descendants, most of whom reared large families, have settled in many towns in this section of the State.

Solomon Barbour

Solomon Barbour came here from Deer Isle in 1843, and bought the lot of land before described as belonging to Alexander Staples. He erected the building now standing thereon, and built a store, where he traded for some years. Previous to this time he had been a successful master mariner. His wife was Harriet, daughter of Abel E. Staples. Mr. Barbour's grandfather, also Solomon Barbour, came to Deer Isle from Massachusetts in 1793. His wife was Deborah Faxon, of Braintree, who, it is said, when she was young, resided for some years in the family of John Adams, President of the United States; while with the family, John Quincy Adams was an infant, of whom she had the care.

Mr. Barbour, sr., was a baker by trade. He joined the Continental army near the beginning of the Revolutionary war and served until its close; he received a pension until his death, which occurred in 1830. After his death his widow continued to receive the pension under the act to grant pensions to the widows of Revolutionary soldiers. She died in 1852, at the age of ninety-two years.

Solomon Barbour, jr., married after coming to this town, where he continued to reside until his death in 1896, at the age of eighty-one years. His widow still occupies the homestead. They were the parents of Seth and George Barbour, both of whom are dead, and Capt. Alvah Barbour, who at present is captain of the passenger steamer "Vinalhaven". The daughters were: Edna, wife of W. Leslie Joyce, and Cornelia, wife of Emery E. Joyce.

Moses Bridges

Moses Bridges came to this island in 1847. He was born in Sedgwick, March 17, 1790. Here he married Emily Eaton; they lived a few years in Sedgwick, where their oldest child was born in 1818. He bought of Rufus B. Allyn, Swan's agent, the eastern Calf Island, containing one hundred and sixty-two acres, for which he paid $400. He was given a deed of the island by Allyn May 23, 1823, and a mortgage was given; this mortgage was discharged in December, 1839, then disposed of this property and moved to Marshall's island. Whether he had any legal title to the part of the island he occupied, we do not know, but in 1847 he exchanged his part of Marshall's island with Silas Hardy for the "Point" below Sadler's. It is claimed there was a mortgage on this place when Mr. Bridges bought it and later it was foreclosed, which turned Mr. Bridges out of doors in his old age. Mr. Bridges died in 1873, aged eighty-three years; his wife died in 1850, aged fifty-four years. Mr. and Mrs. Bridges were the parents of eleven children.

The daughters were: Betsey, who became the wife of John Ross, who was drowned in 1845, aged twenty-nine years; in 1848 Mrs. Ross married William Annis; he, also, lost his life by drowning; Mrs. Annis died in 1895, aged seventy-four years; Julia A., who married in 1843 Consider Bridges; this occurred while the Bridges family was living on Marshall's island; they settled in Bucksport; she died about 1895, aged seventy-six years; Emily, who married, in 1844, Isaac H. Keith; Abigail, who married Chaney Sadler; Jane, who was the wife of John Joyce; Justina, who was the wife of Albert Smith; the last four settled in Ellsworth; Naomi, who married Frank Wilson, of Orono.

The sons were: Daniel and Parker, who will be further noticed; Stillman, who married Caroline Pomroy; he died at this place; Moses, 2d, who married Lucy Stanley; after his death she married Freeman Gross, of Orland.

Daniel Bridges married Clarissa Stanley and bought the lot of land formerly owned by John Gott, and built the house where his son Wilmer now resides. Their children were: Edmond F., Leaman, who died in 1887, aged thirty-four; James and Wilmer; Deborah, wife of William S. Joyce; Emily, wife of Roland Stewart; Dianthia, wife of Harris J. Gott; Algia, wife of Lewis Staples. Mr. Bridges died in 1887, aged sixty-four years. His widow still survives at an advanced age.

Parker Bridges bought the lot of Moses Sadler in 1859. On this lot he built the house now occupied by his widow. His wife was Mary A., daughter of David E. Conary, of Deer Isle, whom he married in 1852. Their children were: Addison, Harvey, Reuben, who was lost at sea Dec. i8, 1883, aged twenty-four years; David, Lewis and Willard. The daughters were: Amelia F., wife of Edward E. Rankins, of Rockland; she died in 1888, aged thirty-three years; Susan, wife of Oliver Bowley.

This completes the record of the early settlers of Swan's Island. It includes all those who made their homes here for any length of time, as far as I have been able to ascertain. I have tried to make the record of each family as complete and accurate as possible. In some cases it has been impossible to trace them all, as so few records had been preserved. If some families have been noticed more in detail than others, it has been for the reason that better and more thorough records have been at my disposal.


Source: A History of Swan's Island, Maine, by H.W. Small, MD, Ellsworth Me, Hancock County Publishing Company, Printers, 1808



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